By 1797, New York Harbor dealt with one-third of all U.S. trade with foreign countries. With the increased European shipping traffic and harsh Atlantic winters, it became clear that a lighthouse was needed at the end of Long Island to steer ships towards the city. The Montauk Point Lighthouse was authorized by the Second U.S. Congress.
The building project began in 1796 and in April 1797, keeper Jacob Hand lit the wicks, and the lighthouse was operational. On February 3, 1987 it was automated. Later that year it opened to the public as a museum, operated by the Montauk Historical Society.
This year, at dusk on Saturday, November 25, a nearly decade-long East End tradition will continue: Joining with several other lighthouses along the Northeast coast, the annual lighting of the Montauk Point Lighthouse returns! Vigilant celebrators might recall the Lighthouse was Christmas-lightless last year, for lack of funds. According to the Montauk Lighthouse website (montauklighthouse.com), “The annual cost of just lighting the Lighthouse for the holiday season is about $50,000.” We’d like to be the first to thank the donors who made it happen this year. So come on out and join friends and family in celebrating the holidays with good cheer, live music and maybe, just maybe, Santa Claus! Local favorite Sarah Conway and some of her “Playful Souls” will perform holiday tunes and good ol’ rock ’n’ roll. The rain date for this event is Sunday, November 26. Parking and admission to the Lighthouse grounds are free. The lights are turned on by a special guest and remain on every night until January 1, 2018.
But that’s not the only thing happening that Saturday in Montauk.
The Montauk Community Church Christmas Fair, featuring baked goods, new and used toys, handmade items and other gifts kicks off at 9 a.m. Santa arrives at 11 a.m. Refreshments will be sold.
The Montauk Library will hold their Holiday Book Sale from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Get there early for the best gift books, art books, cookbooks, children’s books, decorations, jewelry and much more!
The Annual Family Holiday Fun Day sponsored by the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, and hosted by Montauk Yacht Club from noon–2 p.m, is a free event for youngsters who will create holiday crafts and tree ornaments while enjoying cider, cookies and plenty of good cheer.
The very next day, Sunday, November 26, celebrate Christmas at the Lighthouse with Santa from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. The Lighthouse, decorated for the holiday, serves hot cider and snacks. The Gift Shop is open for holiday shopping, pony rides are available for young children, and kids can be photographed with a jolly Santa. Admission to the museum is free during this event and the tower climb will be closed. Sad face.
Before all this, though, work up an appetite on Thursday, November 23 at the 41st Annual Run for Fun/Turkey Trot. Show up at the Village Green between 8–9:30 a.m. to check in for a three- or six-mile race around town. Discounted advanced entry, available at the Montauk Playhouse, is $10 through Wednesday, November 22 at noon. Day-of registration is $15 at the Montauk Chamber of Commerce from 8–9:30 a.m. See you there!